The capital city of Bali, Denpasar, makes up the southern tip of the island and offers pristine beaches and traditional Balinese temples. Denpasar is famous for its busy markets and nightlife, but since it's not a major tourist hub, travelers can get a taste of the real Bali. Known for horrendous traffic, driving in Denpasar and certain other areas of Bali is a challenge. Learning what areas offer less congestion makes a Bali road trip experience that much more enjoyable. On the other hand, some travelers may enjoy the authentic experience of scooters zipping by in bumper to bumper traffic.
Renting a Car in Denpasar
Located 8 miles south of Denpasar, Ngurah Rai International Airport offers several car rental options. Visitors can book a mini car, crossover, or midsize sedan on Skyscanner ahead of their arrival. Other local car rental firms close to Denpasar include Bali Sapta, Jepun Bali, and Auto Bali Car Rental. Fortunately, if you don't want to drive yourself, you can always hire a driver for around 35 to 60 USD (500,000 to 800,000 IDR) per day.
Driving in Denpasar
Obtaining a temporary Balinese driving license in Denpasar is easy. Tourists can apply at the police station and receive it within a day. The cost is roughly 30 USD.
Driving in Denpasar is notoriously fast and hectic. A frenetic mix of scooters, motorbikes, and cars, sprinkled with pedestrians, makes driving not for the faint of heart. The traffic rules are not so much rules as guidelines. The right-of-way rules that most abide by in the West are largely ignored in Bali. One-way streets are common, not to mention food vendor carts, potholes, and yes, even stray dogs, fill the road. Driving in Denpasar is not easy, so another option is hiring a driver to get around.
Fortunately, driving in other parts of Bali are much more serene and easy to navigate. Visitors looking to break free from the notorious throngs in southern Bali may consider driving out to the central mountains or to the less-congested north and west coasts.
Things to Do and See in Denpasar
The activities in Denpasar are diverse. Whether guests prefer water sports, nature hikes, temple excursions, luxurious spas, or a hip nightlife scene, there is something for everyone. Guests can experience Ocean Walking, which is similar to scuba diving but requires no prior experience or training. Participants can experience the bountiful marine life as a guide leads them through an underwater adventure as they breathe through a special oxygenated helmet.
Visitors can dine at a variety of seaside restaurants with authentic Balinese fare or even Italian, French, and Mediterranean cuisines. Tamade Cafeteria offers affordable cafe-type options, or for something more formal, they can try delicious Italian at Settimo Cielo or Thai and Indonesian cuisine at Sarong Restaurant.
To see traditional Balinese architecture, travelers should visit Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali located next to the mayor's office and the Puputan Badung civic square. The oldest on the island, this museum has over 10,000 exhibits. For a great view of Denpasar, guests may also want to visit the Bajra Sandhi Monument. Visitors can enjoy a timeline exhibit dating back to 3000 B.C. on the second floor and take in the Denpasar cityscape from the Utamaning Utama Mandala section on the third floor.
No matter what adventure you're seeking, Denpasar has something to offer for everyone.